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How Do We Let Our Teenagers Go?

College applications sent. 

Dorm deposits paid. 

Cap and gown ordered.  

Surprisingly, I’ve never been one of those moms who cried on the first day of kindergarten or lamented no longer having someone in diapers. In fact, I’ve championed each new milestone. Perhaps it’s because my life verses are Isaiah 43:18-19. “Forget the former things. Do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! (when scripture uses an exclamation mark, I perk up and listen). I will make a way through the forest and streams in the desert.”   

So why then, do I find myself teary at every turn as my daughter’s senior year of high school comes to a close? 

I suppose it’s because I promised to never let her go. 

To explain, our children didn’t come to us easily or in the traditional way. Both our beautiful daughters have someone else’s DNA, and those someones gave birth to them an ocean away. As part of our international adoption, I sat across from a magistrate and promised to never leave my daughter nor forsake her, much in the same way the Lord promises us. Since that moment, my call has been to protect, provide, develop, teach, care for and hold close—but never to let go. 

How do we launch our children into adulthood? How do we let go when for their whole lives we’ve been holding them so close and so tight? Learn with us today about how God is doing something new and providing for us still in new seasons.

However, my new call demands that I release her to the Lord’s care and His alone. The Father’s voice gently reminds me that my life verses are true in every sense. When He’s doing a new thing, it will include making a way where there seems no way—even sending our girl to college. So how do I do that?

How do we let our teenagers go? 

1. By trusting we did our best.

We’ve spent over six-thousand days preparing her heart, her mind and her arms for the weight of adulthood. 

We’ve invested thousands of hours cultivating her relationship with us and with Christ. 

We’ve devoted millions of minutes listening to her, from her first words to her first broken heart. 

We’ve wiped away what feels like trillions of tears when life bore down hard on our girl. 

I think we let go by knowing that each second we’ve been granted with her has been a gift that we could not earn and did not deserve, much like our salvation. With the acknowledgment that she will live more years outside our home than in it, we set her free to fly complete with every ounce of our love. 

2. By trusting our Heavenly Father. 

When it’s time to let go, we have no choice but to put our faith to the test. 

Do we believe that He will protect and care for her as well as we have? 

Will He catch her tears and tend to her wounds the way we do?

Will He remind her how fearfully and wonderfully made she is when she struggles with that truth? 

Absolutely. He didn’t make promises to government officials. He made and has fulfilled His covenantal promises from the beginning of time and through His son’s death and resurrection.

He provides better than we could imagine.

He comforts places still hidden to our eyes.

He knit her together before we even knew she existed and has only ever asked us to be good stewards of her life.

 3. By trusting Christ in our daughter  

As our daughter edges closer to independence, we are filled with godly pride at the phenomenal woman she has become. The wisdom, discernment and spiritual maturity she possesses is evidence of Christ in her. Watching her lean into the Father’s promises and purposes gives us the strength to let go.

Putting my faith to the test,

Denise C. McDowell

Find me at denisemcdowell.com

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